Americans may pick vanilla over any other flavor, but that's not stopping ice cream chains from creating some exotic new flavors with ingredients ranging from spices to meat.
“We have strawberry black pepper, black pepper olive oil and Texas pecan sea salt,” said Kristi Fairbanks, owner of Paciugo Gelato and Café in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square.
Paciugo also offers other off-beat flavors, such as chocolate chipotle butter pecan and organic caramelized maple bacon.
“It’s basically a maple gelato with some bacon with a little syrup on top,” Fairbanks said. “It’s really good -- surprisingly good.”
Ice cream shops ring up 70 percent of their sales during the summer months. And with the domestic ice cream market now valued at $21 billion, stores are looking for any way to scoop their competition.
“We've kind of like taken a new kick on ice cream,” said Andrew Wilhite, manager of Cold Stone Creamery in Dallas’ Mockingbird Station.
Cold Stone is serving up lemon poppy seed, strawberry basil and peach iced tea this summer.
Baskin-Robbins will introduce French toast, and Maggie Moo's hopes to top them both with buttered popcorn.
And now that black pepper, basil and bacon have been done, one can only wonder what they'll think of next.
“Next week, it could be Captain Crunch Berries,” Wilhite said.
Fairbanks said stores introduce oddball flavors to lure customers into the store. But while most customers will sample the new, they'll play it safe and order the old.
“It gets them in the door,” she said.
While vanilla ice cream has always held the top spot, chocolate has been gaining in popularity, according to the International Dairy Food Association. Strawberry, chocolate chip and butter pecan round out the top five.